Notes on Becoming a Keynote Speaker

public speaking business
Keynote speaker

There are many benefits to reap when you take the stage as a keynote speaker. You can earn substantial fees, promote yourself and your brand, and gain notoriety within your market. While the benefits might make the job sound desirable, not everyone has what it takes to captivate a crowd. There’s much more to the profession than simply getting up and giving a speech. In this article, you’ll learn what it takes to become a keynote speaker and whether the job is a good fit.

Expert Status

When you approach the event organizer to offer your services, he’ll want to know what makes you qualified to do the job. What are your credentials? Does your knowledge apply to the theme of the event? How long have you been speaking professionally? Be prepared to answer these questions and demonstrate that you’re an expert in your market.

At Ease with a Crowd

If the thought of giving a speech in front of a group of 1,000 people terrifies you, you’ll likely need to seek some sort of training. You may have subject matter expertise, but you need to know how to present those ideas in front of a large crowd. Start small by presenting to small groups in your area, such as networking groups, PTA’s, etc. With this experience, you can gradually move on to larger events.

The Accidental Tourist

You’ll likely have to travel to different parts of the country, and eventually the world, to give your presentations. This could involve long periods of time away from your family and friends. Lengthy flights, small hotel rooms, and room service could become an everyday part of life. Make sure that your family is aware of the commitment that you’ll have to make.

Changing Hats

There may be times when you’re asked to modify your presentation to suit the theme of the event. If you’re a general real estate expert, you could be asked to speak primarily about foreclosures. Ask the event organizer to give you an idea of what he expects from you, and tailor your message to fit those expectations.

The Devil’s in the Details

With all of the details that have to be worked out before giving your speech, you’ll need to have some sort of system in place. Know what time you’ll be presenting, whether the organizer is handling hotel accommodations, and what will be expected of you after you give your presentation; a meet-and-great, or joining your sponsor at their tradeshow booth, etc. A speakers’ bureau can help to take care of many of these distractions for you and even handle your bookings.

Engaging the Audience

A boring speech will make you look like an amateur, damage your reputation, and hurt your chances of landing more speaking opportunities. Try to incorporate different elements into your presentation, like humor or personal stories. To get the audience involved, make sure to ask questions and be prepared to shift your direction according to the responses you are receiving. Also, you can use visual aids like a whiteboard, PowerPoint presentation, or videos.

The Art of Persuasion

You may not be selling a particular product when you’re on stage, but you’re certainly selling yourself and your ideas. Be confident in what you say and use your persuasion skills to get the audience on your side. Use examples or stories to back up your points, and anticipate any objections that the audience might have when you prepare for your presentation.

Answering Tough Questions

While you may feel like you’re in charge when giving your presentation, you might be forced to answer difficult questions during a Q&A session. To feel better prepared, you should run through your speech with a friend or colleague. After listening, he’ll be able to come up with a list of questions that could be posed by the audience. Keep your responses short, and later make notes to include this feedback in your next speeches. After awhile, you will easily respond to practically every possible question or comment.

These are some of the skills and qualities that you should have as a keynote speaker. You may not be perfect in each area, but you can always seek training or guidance to make gradual improvements. Take a mental inventory to determine whether this opportunity is right for you, and whether it makes sense as a career for your lifestyle.

Photo credit courtesy of Flickr: Keynote speaker Peter Wallwork by Michael Holmyard

Peter Anderson is a marketing consultant and he highly recommends online services for custom business card design ideas. Peter likes to browse around for unique business card designs and then create his own.